Information that survivors should know about fatal injury claims in New Brunswick.
Losing a loved one is difficult. The tragedy of an untimely death can be devastating for friends, family, and other loved ones. If that death occurred in New Brunswick and was caused by someone else’s wrong or negligent behaviour, then family members may be able to receive financial compensation for their loss by advancing a fatal injury claim. Although no amount of money can replace a loved one, compensation can alleviate some of the financial strain associated with such a difficult loss. The Fatal Accidents Act exists to provide guidelines surrounding this compensation in New Brunswick. This financial compensation can include compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and funeral or burial expenses. New Brunswick survivors may also receive compensation for the loss of financial support, care, guidance, services and companionship that they received from the deceased.
Compensation for Funeral Expenses
If funeral expenses are paid for by family members, then damages may be awarded to reimburse reasonably necessary expenses. Such expenses typically include the burial of the deceased, transportation, supplies and services rendered in connection with the funeral. These expenses can be covered under the Fatal Accidents Act or the Survival of Actions Act in New Brunswick.
Important New Brunswick Legislation for Fatal Injury Claims
The Fatal Accidents Act and the Survival of Actions Act are two Acts that often cause confusion because they have a great deal of overlap. They are both actions that are brought by the personal representatives of the estate or the deceased’s dependants when someone dies as the result of someone else’s negligence. Both actions will typically also benefit the same people (the family/dependants of the deceased).
The Fatal Accident Act is designed to provide compensation for the pecuniary losses that are caused to the dependants by the deceased’s death. The Survival of Actions Act is designed to continue the cause of action that the deceased would have had for their actual pecuniary loss to either them or their estate, that they would have had if they had survived. Essentially, the Fatal Accidents Act compensates dependants for their loss, whereas the Survival of Actions Act compensates the deceased for theirs.
Fatal Injury Legal Claims for a Wrongful Death in New Brunswick
A family member or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may pursue a claim for fatal injury damages. A civil suit must typically be filed within two years in New Brunswick. A fatal injury legal claim under the Fatal Accidents Act must be for the benefit of the spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child of the deceased.
Claiming Compensation for Loss of Care, Guidance and Companionship
Family members are entitled to claim compensation for the loss of care, guidance, and companionship that they will no longer receive due to the death of their loved one. There is very little guidance from the New Brunswick courts in this area. One case that does provide some guidance is Miller Estate v. Dow (2017), 2017 CarswellNB 62, 2017 NBQB 35 (N.B. Q.B.). In Miller Estate v. Dow, the New Brunswick Court did not find liability in that case, but it went on to set out provisional damages nonetheless. The court set provisional damages in the amount of $41,715.49 for the loss of care and companionship, and $3,077.35 for funeral expenses.
Legal cases typically consider the closeness of the relationship between the family member or spouse and the deceased. The court will consider the following factors, among others, when considering the compensation for loss of care, guidance and companionship that ought to be awarded:
- consider the length of time of the relationship,
- the closeness of the relationship,
- the amount of activity sharing, whether children where involved,
- the intermingling of assets, shared expenses, and
- overall compassion and commitment.
Younger children are often awarded more in damages for lost care and companionship because they will be without their parent for a longer time. As a general rule, the court typically considers the loss of guidance elements to be more significant for children who will no longer have the opportunity to learn from their parent.
Claiming Compensation for Valuable Service Losses
Another main category of damages is the loss of valuable services. This sum includes recurring costs that the survivors are expected to incur as a result of the incident.
To accurately capture this amount, an analysis is performed to determine the value of the tasks that were normally performed by the deceased for the benefit of the household. An annual amount for the valuable services lost is then computed. This figure can then be projected as an ongoing loss into the future.
For more information about this type of damage, see our post on valuable services.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer with Experience handling Fatal Injury Claims
Jeff Mitchell is an experienced personal injury lawyer who has navigated fatal injury claims to successful resolutions. Fatal injury claims are delicate and emotionally charged. NOVA Injury Law’s process for fatal injury claims attempts to limit the emotional toll the claim process will take.
To book your free consultation with Jeff Mitchell, call 1.800.262.8104 or email [email protected]